kermit

Charlotte Bike Sharing

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^ultimately this is an off the charts ridiculously good thing.  When B cycle started it was "sponsored" but felt subsidized.  The fact that there are now multiple companies here competing for business kind of blows my mind.

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It is awesome to have the competition because it is already vastly more like a business competition than a government type program.  I have spoken to leadership of Bcycle about how terrible and hard to ride their bikes are, especially with the extremely heavy baskets that throw you off balance and the near total lack of braking power.    The response was "the baskets are necessary for ad space", but I'm thinking they have giant freaking wheels that could get it if they were worried about sponsors.  Or better yet, having a lower accident rate, unless that's not what CHS wants ( ;) )

 

I rode Spin for the first time yesterday and the bike was a 100x better than Bcycle.   Light weight basket, solid brakes, gears that change when you need it, and a far better experience for leaving it where I was going.   I did have a problem with a Lime bike that was apparently locked inside the building at First Presby, but no clear way to flag the problem so they can sort it out and stop showing the bike as available.   That type of hoarding is not ok, so I'm not sure why it's not an easy part of the app to let them know.  

Overall it was crazy easy to use, and I only had to walk a bit farther due to the screw up of the hoarded bike.    Sadly for b-cycle, they won't be able to compete with their terrible bikes and limited destinations, so  I will cancel my annual subscription if these new batch of bike-shares work better for me.  

Between these and Zipcar and the doubling of the Lynx mileage (I also used CATSPass for the first time last night to solve the problem of having to physically get a ticket when sometimes rushing to the train) it is really getting me thinking about going car-free again.   

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I was wondering how long it would be before people started complaining about ugly bike littering the landscape, parked in overly conspicuous places... and then I read this article in the Guardian about other cities and their emerging issues with bike share.  Hopefully it will be a while before we have to deal with scuzzy bikes, but I do wonder if it might be prudent for there to be a designated or "suggested" area to return these things...  you know, to tidy up the place.

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I think until the general public stops actually littering with reckless abandon, a locked bicycle in what the terms and agreements require to be a reasonable public location outside of the flow of pedestrian or vehicle flow cannot be considered littering. 

Real litter is pervasive and constant.  A bike is going to trigger a blogger but it shouldn't.  

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I was just thinking this today when I saw these four bikes in NoDa outside the YMCA's lot. Obviously there are worse issues out there, but I wonder if there's a public employee who's having a conniption over this new impediment to ROW...

Bikes.png

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Not sure about Charlotte but there is an ordinance for the City I work for requiring 5 feet of clearance along sidewalks for handicap accessibility, there's also an ordinance about junk and debris on public right of way which we could consider this to be.  If this became a problem where I work we would start off by fining the bike share company and work our way from there.  I know this sounds extreme but its a tool the City could use if these ever become a problem.  Hopefully this will not be the case!

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Charlotte adopted an ordinance just to deal with dockless bike share last month. It's currently a test program, and each company has to get a permit and is capped at 500 bikes (for now), but from what I understand there is room to grow in the future. There are currently three companies in Charlotte, with a few more that are interested from what I'm hearing. So, we could end up with somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 dockless bikes laying around town - mostly concentrated inside of Route 4.

Now, if you want to see how things might play out here, keep your eye on Durham. They have approved dockless bike share companies in their city, but Durham does not have a cap like Charlotte. The reason that is significant is because my understanding is that the dockless bike-share business model aims for roughly 1 bike per 100 people in a city. Think about the implications of that for a minute. Durham could end up with 2,600 bikes... per company. If Charlotte ever raises the cap it could be 8,000 bikes... per company. So if you only have six companies that all have a similar business model then you're talking about something on the order of 48,000 dockless bikes. Then think about what that means for pedestrians, sidewalks, people with disabilities, transit access, normal bike owners, etc. 

My guess is that we won't end up with 48,000 bikes - but my question/concern is what happens if we end up with even half that? Charlotte doesn't have a bicycle culture yet. What happens if we just have thousands of bikes just laying around most of the time? My hope is that more people will start riding because of it so that issue will correct itself.

Then on the more extreme end, you have China, which has a higher order of dockless bicycle challenges than even Seattle, DC, or Portland.

I think these are good problems to have... I'm just saying it's going to be a fun ride (pun INTENDED).

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Someone parked a bike perpendicular across a sidewalk in uptown blocking most of the sidewalk the other day. I think it's a educational issue more than anything ("don't be an asshole"), but I'm sure that isn't an isolated incident

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1 hour ago, kermit said:

This isn't directed at you Sgt, but this photo is hugely ironical given our conversation here. We all (myself included) have angst about 'too many bikes littering our public space.' But in the photo above there are 6 bikes and 6 visible parked cars. Each mode carries an equal number of people but we don't have any agita about all the public space the stationary cars are taking up -- they are huge, blocking a much larger portion of the public right of way and there are wayyyy more of them than one car per 100 people. Perhaps we are being distracted from the real problem here.

 

 

Lol, I guess I was more just shocked and surprised to see a gaggle of bikes parked on a random stretch of sidewalk IN CHARLOTTE that wasn't outside Common Market. Acting like it's a bike friendly city or something.

It's a good problem to have! But point taken

 :tw_glasses:

Edited by SgtCampsalot

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25 minutes ago, Desert Power said:

How do these dockless bikes work?

GPS, app, pay a dollar, unlock, ride, lock.

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The main difference between these bikes and personal bikes is that they don't need to be tethered to an object like a pole or bike rack.  As a result, there is more risk that they will be left in a more random location.  

 

To me, their presence is a welcome sight, because it breeds an awareness for the need for bike storage, so as the users of properties and neighborhoods are now more likely to arrive by bicycle or bike share, a good location is created for those bikes to be stored.   The dutch and danish deal with this problem in spades, but to some how limit bike shares because of the clutter is insane considering how our society bends over backwards for ugly parking lots and car storage that swallows up far more land.   

 

There does need to be clear instructions for bike share users to not fail in this regard.  There also should be an easy way to go in and mark that the previous user has done something incorrect or outside of the ideal to give a feedback loop to those people the next time they use it.   For example, when the Lime Bike I walked 3 blocks toward turned out to be locked inside First Presby church, it should have been something I could indicate was bad behavior by that previous user.   Or if it were hypothetically locked blocking my driveway or any other problem, it should be easier than a link for me to write an email for support. 

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If CDOT is permitting these bikes to be stored in public right-of-way, then citizens should direct complaints about bad behavior  (like blocking an accessible path) to the City.

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Out of curiosity I opened the VBike app to see where bikes are at the moment.  Only 9 bikes are showing on my app and  one of those is west of the Walmart on Wilkinson and another is north of I-85 near Sunset Hills. 

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47 minutes ago, kermit said:

Out of curiosity I opened the VBike app to see where bikes are at the moment.  Only 9 bikes are showing on my app and  one of those is west of the Walmart on Wilkinson and another is north of I-85 near Sunset Hills. 

That's kinda cool, that tells me it's affordable enough for someone without a car, and who probably takes the bus, to use it as an alternative.

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V Bikes seems to be the lowest number of bikes.  

 

Lime and Spin are much less heavy than the Bcycle bikes.  But they seem to be steel bikes, so not necessarily light enough for any user to lift onto the bus rack. 

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2 minutes ago, dubone said:

..But they seem to be steel bikes...

anybody have a sense for how much these bikes wholesale for? I am curious about the economics of the dockless providers. I keep hearing that they are VC funded, but if the bikes are in the sub $100 range in bulk (and they might be given the lack of sophistication of the bike electronics) then I can see this being a cash cow for the firms.

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No way are they sub-$100.   There are solar panels, and a likely a high mAH lithium battery for the GPS/cellular radio on the lock.   Then they wouldn't likely be picking the worst possible components, especially as each part is anti-theft. 

This indicates that the Limebikes are 40lbs but I have not found any reference to the actual landed cost of the bikes.  I'd really guess it would be more like $1000 budget per bike, as they'd be building more to last rather than just be sold and let fall apart.   Although it isn't as though B-cycle bikes have lasted, and apparently most bikes in the US are actually made by Battle FSD in China.   

http://www.greensboro.com/news/schools/green-machines-new-bike-share-program-gets-its-start-at/article_01057cb1-da17-57eb-8fea-d46ce4b4f023.html

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How hard would it be for CLT to replace a some street parking spots sporadically throughout the densest parts of the city with bike parking slots? Seems like an easy solution to me.

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I tried both Limebike and Spin this weekend. Limebike has a better app, it will tell you how many calories you burned on your ride. Spins app seemed to have a few glitches now and then. I would have to close the app then re-open it. However I found the spin bikes easier to ride compared to Limebike. Limebike is a little heavier and has a larger basket. Overall great experience and I am happy to have these in Charlotte!

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